I’ve paid people in the past to design websites and blogs, and I have to give Jenny a high-five for creating many of them. (She’s great if you are looking for a designer.) However, this time, I wanted to create a WordPress blog from scratch.
Well, actually, not totally by myself. A few Internet friends, who I’ve never met and who couldn’t pick me out from a lineup, helped me along the way. Hopefully after this article they will know how awesome I think they are.
I’m not a designer. I’m not a coder. I have no claim to fame expect my ruthless desire to figure this blogging thing out…and then to spread the word to my readers.
Here’s what I know.
All in a Name
I have an MBA, so I know how important strategy is to anything. Sadly, that is about all I got from my MBA. No, I was not a bad student. I got all A’s and loved learning, but wow was it expensive and I can’t say I use my statistical knowledge very often.
I could go on and on here, but basically this is all you need to know – [Tweet “Blogging Secret #1- You need a rockin’ good name for your blog! #everydayfinance”].
In fact, don’t even think of it as a blog. It’s your brand. It’s an extension of you.
Write down as many names as you can think of. Keep it to 2 words preferably, like Everyday Finance.
Go check to see if the URL’s are available. I use Blue Host and Go Daddy and have been very happy with their prices and discounts. If the .com is not available, don’t curl up and throw a fit. I use .info and have no problems. Keep away from .org unless you are a non-profit though.
Then, narrow down to your top 4 choices for a name. Grab 2 friends that are in your demographic whose opinions you trust and bounce away. (I suggest you grab the 4 URL’s just in case you change your mind too. Options are good and buying a URL isn’t a huge cost.)
You’ve Got to Look Good Darlin’
You simply do not need to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to have a good-looking site. If you want to pay a designer to do a few tweaks after your set your blog up, that’s a smart decision and you will get the most bang for your buck.
After reading countless articles about how great WordPress Genesis themes were, I decided that would be a smart decision. The best place to get the Genesis platform and themes is StudioPress.com.
Let me stop there and just debunk one myth.
Yes, you can get a free WordPress.com site, and well, it’s free. If you want to look professional, have lots of options for widgets and frankly want to make money from your blog, you’ve got to have a WordPress.org site.
If you are looking to save a ton of money and get lots of themes for multiple sites, buy their package option. I didn’t go this way because I wanted to make sure I had the chops to create a site first.
What’s so great about Genesis themes? They are mobile responsive and very easy to set up. In fact, Studiopress practically holds your hand through the set up process.
If you would like something more cute and artsy for your blog, turn to Etsy.com. You will want to search for responsive WordPress blog templates. There are tons to choose from at great prices.
Take Me Home
You’ve got your great brandable name under one arm, and a mind-blowing WordPress theme under the other…now you need a home.
Again, there are many options for where to host your blog and lots of great offers out there. I use Blue Host and love what they offer for the price. Bonus – if you host your blog with them, you also get a URL for free.
I’ve also heard a lot of great things about Host Gator too. If you use Host Gator, let me know what you think.
Blue Host offers a low monthly price on hosting, easy WordPress set up for your blog and outstanding technical support. I’ve used the live chat feature many times, and within minutes they have my issue resolved and I’m back to blogging.
Expect to pay around $3.95-$6.95 per month for decent hosting. This is probably the most important piece to your blog because without a reliable host, your blog could go into a black hole without anyone seeing one word you’ve written.
The Wild Widget World
It took me forever to finally wrap my brain around plugins and widgets. I’m sorry, every time I think about the word “widget” I also think about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Nevermind. Back to business.
I certainly haven’t tried every widget and plugin, but here are a few of my favorites.
- Chimpy for Mailchimp
- Click to Tweet
- Genesis Enews Extended
- Genesis Simple Edits
- Google Analytics by Yoast
- Hello Bar
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
- Pinterest Pin It Button
- Simple Social Icons
- WordPress Editorial Calendar
- WordPress SEO
People to Follow
Don’t listen to me though. I am still a novice. Take some time and follow these really smart and talented bloggers who have taught me what I know.
If you want to find some great resources to jazz up your site and your brand, check out a few of these resources. Pic Monkey and Canva are a great resource for creating fun blog graphics. They are how I create most of my graphics for my blog and my videos.
- Olive and Ivy Design
- Flickr– look for creative commons photos that you can use
- Moo Cards
- Pic Monkey
The amount of resources out there to learn how to create your own blog from scratch are mind-blowing. The best piece of advice I can offer is to just start somewhere and rest in the simple fact that your blog doesn’t need to achieve perfection. What you should focus on is great content. That is what will keep the readers reading.
If you have any other great resources, please share them in the comments.